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  • Katherine84
  • Adventurer

    • 38

    • October 07, 2010, 12:07:22 pm
    • Buan-gun, Korea
Teaching alone - Winter vacation
« on: December 02, 2010, 08:39:13 am »
Hi, I'm a first year EPIK teacher in Jeollabuk-do, I teach elementary - high school, and was hoping one of you lovely people could give me some advice? I have been told that I am not teaching any sort of camps this vacation, but will instead teach my ordinary 22 hour week for the duration of vacation. I was fine with this, but I have also been told that I will be teaching completely alone for the whole vacation period. I am worried about this as I teach low level students, who don't understand a lot of what I say - I rely a hell of a lot of my coteachers just to translate for most of my students! I was wondering if anyone could offer any advice about what to teach/if this is part of my job description? Thanks so much!


  • shhowse
  • Featured Contributor

    • 726

    • August 25, 2009, 08:49:24 am
    • Mokpo
    more
Re: Teaching alone - Winter vacation
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2010, 08:49:39 am »
I would suggest during the "vacation" period not to teach so much as play English oriented games and do fun activities. You shouldn't be doing the curriculum during the break, so treat it kind of like a camp anyway and stay away from the textbook. That is unless of course your school has told you to teach the textbook. In that case, just do what you can and don't worry about it if the kids aren't seeming to get much out of it. Keep everything as simple and fun as possible.


  • pickle
  • Veteran

    • 139

    • June 29, 2010, 01:58:27 pm
    • Cheongju, Chungbuk
Re: Teaching alone - Winter vacation
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2010, 09:13:18 am »
How are you teaching your normal classes during a vacation?  Are all the students required to come to school during the school break?  It doesn't make much sense to  me.

Technically you are not allowed to teach alone during the school day.  I don't know if it being a break changes that.  (You can legally teach alone during after school classes.)

I think it really depends on your willingness to try and if you think it will work out or be a disaster.  Maybe ask your co-teacher to let you teach a particular lesson on your own next week, with her in the room in case things get out of hand.  Then you can maybe gauge how you'll so in the summer.  If you really don't think you can manage a class on your own, request that another teacher (other than an English teacher) be there just for discipline, and prepare all your materials beforehand, so you can get a co-teacher's help in writing instructions in Korean.  That can be anything from instructions written in a PowerPoint or on a worksheet, to cards you can show the class for all basic instructions you may need for all your activities.  (Sit up, follow me, repeat, etc.)

I really hope it turns out for you.  Good luck!


  • Katherine84
  • Adventurer

    • 38

    • October 07, 2010, 12:07:22 pm
    • Buan-gun, Korea
Re: Teaching alone - Winter vacation
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2010, 09:22:57 am »
Thanks both for your advice!
Pickle, I teach in a very strange school! My poor kids have to come in for a full day for the whole vacation, some of them from 8am - midnight! My school doesn't seem to follow the same methods as any other PS that I have heard of! Usually, I don't mind but my worry is that my kids (especially my younger ones) will not understand my instructions! I am lucky in that discipline in general is very good! I have already approached my co-teacher with my concerns and just been brushed off unfortunately, and as you say, I can't find anything in the contract that specifies about teaching alone in the vacation! I have also asked about accompanying teachers, and been told that just the admin staff will be in the building! I think the idea about translating instructions onto a ppt/flashcard is a good one so thanks very much!
I will try my co-teacher again as well, I just feel sorry for the kids as they want to learn but get frustrated when they can't understand what I want them to do! Thanks again for the advice and luck!


  • epotosky
  • Waygookin

    • 12

    • September 19, 2010, 07:53:42 pm
    • Yesan, South Korea
Re: Teaching alone - Winter vacation
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2010, 09:35:06 am »
I teach at a small rural high school have really really low level students (they're high schoolers but I teach them at an elementary school level) so I make it a point to use my co-teacher as little as possible as a translator. I've run a few classes using my co-teacher to translate just because I was doing more difficult activities, but the more I use my co-teacher the less they focus on the English. True, you can do more advanced games with a co-teacher translating and practice English that way, however there are really good activities that you can do that are low level enough/easy enough to do.

What I generally do is start my lesson with a hook, and then by introducing vocabulary. There are 2 ways I've found that work really well, either flashcards (http://www.eslflashcards.com/) or a powerpoint. The way I do my powerpoint is I set it up so that first I have the English word followed by a picture (ex: "City" followed by a picture of New York), then I ask the students for English examples of cities to check for comprehension (generally 1 or 2 students can answer and then the other students start to understand and call out more) then I list examples on the powerpoint, and then last I use the Korean word (도시) that way you're engaging all of the students, from the ones that can understand the English words to the ones that can't read English (and I do have a few of those). This process has worked really well.

What I also try to do is instead of teaching new material I reinforce material that they're either currently learning in their other classes or that they should have learned (i.e. "studied" in a previous class). That way they have some familiarity with the material. A lesson that worked really well for me was simple prepositions (on, above, around, etc) because it was really easy to explain with pictures, once I told them were were studying "prepositions" - then wrote the Korean word for "preposition" on the board. I would highly suggest not doing lessons that involve a lot of reasoning (especially "why" or "how" questions), or complicated cultural lessons without a co-teacher. Unless you give them the tools to answer the question (the vocabulary, and a strict grammar template) then they'll shut down. My kids can't write complete sentences, so asking them to reason in English is really difficult for them.

Then as for games there are a lot of games that the students already know, so unless you're doing a modification you don't even really have to explain the rules. Some good examples of this are "bingo" or "hangman." If you want to play a new game, then physical ones are the best. The word-recognition slap game works really well (put laminated flashcards of the vocabulary on the desk and have groups of 4 slap the word when you say it) because there's a lot of physical action, which is really easy to model.

Last but not least, a little Korean goes a long way. You don't even have to be able to speak it but if you include it in your powerpoints and learn how to say a few key phrases (especially do you understand?) they'll respond a lot better.

I hope this is helpful!


Re: Teaching alone - Winter vacation
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2010, 09:38:34 am »
Hello Katherine

I feel for you! I teach two lots of low-level kids afterschool all on my own, and it is reaaaally challenging sometimes, especially when trying to explain anything or when orchestrating games. They struggle to understand even the simplest instructions, and sometimes purposefully feign not understanding just to try and wreak havoc.

I suggest going really slow, preparing uber-well for the classes in terms of ppts with pictures to help get the point across when words alone don't cut it. If you find one smarter kid in the lot (or the first kiddie to understand the rules or instructions) ask them to explain to the rest of the students in Korean. I sometimes allow them to use their phone dictionaries when they struggle with the vocab (since there is no KT around to translate).

Write the lesson structure on the board as you would for a normal class and tick it off as you go along - it helps them stay with you. Follow the rules for a normal class as much as possible - groups, competitions, giving points, raise your hands etc. Even though the classes are much more fun, the structure helps you stay in control.

I used to struggle with discipline but we reviewed the rules, and I had my KT write translations under the english rules so the kids absolutely know what goes for what, even when there is no KT around.

Good luck! :)


  • kaymac
  • Super Waygook

    • 259

    • September 25, 2009, 03:53:47 am
    • Yeosu
Re: Teaching alone - Winter vacation
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2010, 09:39:18 am »
Like Pickle said, my best advice is to have your instructions written in some form so the students can read it. And remember k.i.s.s (keep it simple sangsangnim!) I have some kids that I teach where it's literally a charades game. Good luck to you!


  • Katherine84
  • Adventurer

    • 38

    • October 07, 2010, 12:07:22 pm
    • Buan-gun, Korea
Re: Teaching alone - Winter vacation
« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2010, 09:37:55 am »
Thanks all for the advice! It's good to see I am not alone, and you guys seem to implement some really useful strategies! It's much appreciated! :)


  • LivvyVines
  • Waygookin

    • 10

    • September 07, 2010, 02:09:37 pm
    • Incheon
Re: Teaching alone - Winter vacation
« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2010, 10:15:14 am »
I am the same as a lot of you with teaching alone in after school clubs etc. I have found that normally there are a couple of stronger students who will help explain the activities to the lower level students. Ask them to help you be the teacher etc and explain to the class in Korean! It's bad to have to resort to this but they enjoy it! Hope it goes well! 


Re: Teaching alone - Winter vacation
« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2010, 10:34:11 am »
The nice thing is, from my experience, the kids that come will be ones that are higher-level and more interested in learning. You'll have some lower-level, but they'll make up for it with their enthusiasm and effort.

I love supplementary classes. They're typically smaller and more fun. You get to know your students much better.

I agree with the other posters ~ try to do more fun, engaging activities. Plan for lots of examples, and even the lowest-level kids will get the meaning.

Good luck!  :)


  • Katherine84
  • Adventurer

    • 38

    • October 07, 2010, 12:07:22 pm
    • Buan-gun, Korea
Re: Teaching alone - Winter vacation
« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2010, 10:39:49 am »
They ALL have to come, poor kids! But yes, it's just going to be lots of games (don't know how I will stretch that for 22 hours a week! ;) and lots of fun, I feel bad for them having to come in the whole vacation period, so I want to make it as fun as possible - plus games are easier to understand! I will definitely get translations of a list of words before my co-teacher goes away as well, I think I will definitely need it!
The great thing about my kids (and I think Korean kids in general) is that they are up for doing anything fun, and they do always participate and want to WIN! I think that helps a lot!:)


  • jensikle
  • Newgookin

    • 1

    • September 05, 2010, 04:18:34 pm
    • Seoul, Korea
Re: Teaching alone - Winter vacation
« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2010, 10:45:01 am »
I am just as scared as you all are about teaching Winter Camp ALONE! BUT this site offers a lot of great activities that I am sure will make the 22 hours/week fly by.

 http://www.education.com/activity/

Grade & Topic specific activities!


Re: Teaching alone - Winter vacation
« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2010, 10:59:44 am »
I taught like this in summer. I used a step by step powerpoint with super simple english, pictures, and some translated Korean from google translate under any hard words. Sometimes the Korean was wrong, but enough to help them figure it out. I wanted a coteacher to proof the Korean in the powerpoints, but they only got to a couple.

Have a really good idea of how you will cope with discipline problems beforehand.
I had no real trouble with 5th and 6th grades, just need to quiet them when they're rowdy etc, but 4th grade at my school has some seriously bullying problems, and it was really hard to curb that.

Mostly they were saying cruel things in Korean to other students and I didn't realise because my Korean isn't very good and the kids were hiding it pretty well. The bullied students put up with it quietly. It only came to light when they stole a girls shoes and buried them in the playground, leaving her shoeless at the end of the day.

I'm still not sure how to work around it, just emphasise to them that I'm not scary and they need to talk to me if someone is being mean to them.



  • jigeha
  • Explorer

    • 7

    • August 25, 2010, 07:36:48 pm
    • Gyeonggi-do, South Korea
Re: Teaching alone - Winter vacation
« Reply #13 on: December 03, 2010, 11:05:46 am »

I teach high school pretty much completely alone all the time.  One thing I use when I run out of activities or just have some random downtime with my students is Uno. We've been through all the appropriate language to use to play the game, as well as some funny trash-talking, so they definitely have all the vocab to play it (not that it takes much). I have several decks of Uno cards and walk around with an extra deck and give extra cards to any student I hear speaking Korean. It's hilarious because when they get excited, they forget and let some Korean slip, and they're screwed. It's kind of annoying sorting the cards back into decks afterward, but really fun. We did this for the last 20 minutes of almost every class during my summer camp and they loved it.


  • marv3n
  • Waygookin

    • 13

    • November 25, 2010, 11:54:02 am
    • Korea
Re: Teaching alone - Winter vacation
« Reply #14 on: December 03, 2010, 11:49:11 am »
I'm a high school teacher and I've done both. I teach with a co-teacher for my regular schedule and I teach alone after school. It's harder at times and you'll find that you keep telling yourself that this would be so much easier with a translator, but I assure you, it's really not that bad. Just be patient at communicating with your students, do a lot of hand gestures, show a lot of pictures when demonstrating how to do something, you could ask your co-teachers ahead of time for what the Korean is to some key words, and then you also carry your hand phone (with dictionary) with you. If one of my students has a hard time telling me something, I just give her my phone and 99% of the time I understand. And FYI, My students are low level as well.

For example, in class, I was talking to my students about superstitions and I wanted them to share. Before the class, I asked a teacher what superstition was and by mentioning it to my students, we were all having fun just sharing superstitions to one another.

Also, you should find out the Korean phrases to instructions like: Repeat after me, Listen, Quiet down, Copy this down, etc.

Those things make it a lot easier.